On top of his game

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p dir=”ltr”>Jimmy Shrull has never sold a roof, but he’s put up untold thousands of them as owner of Jimmy Shrull Roofing Inc. of Gilroy. For his business, the story of a five-generation family enterprise and the building of lifelong relationships in the community, has done the selling itself.

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p dir=”ltr”>“In this business, what I learned from my grandfather and dad is, that business is about building relationships,” Jimmy Shrull, 50, said as he sat on the grass outside a home on which he was working. “I tell our story, which is very powerful and I think that’s what people like most about us.”

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p dir=”ltr”>The story of Jimmy Shrull Roofing Inc. began in 1932, when Jimmy’s grandfather, Roger Shrull,  founded Shrull Roofing in San Jose. Roger moved from South Dakota to San Jose at 16 years old and got his start as a union roofer with Al-Cal Roofing. Shrull Roofing, with Jimmy’s father Bob as an employee, would go on to install the roofs for former San Jose landmarks, Century Theaters near Santana Row, which have since been torn down, along with their domed roofs.

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p dir=”ltr”>“The legacy that my grandfather and father left drives me becuase I always want to continue to make them proud,” Shrull said. “A lot of customers that we have now were friends and customers of my father.”

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p dir=”ltr”>As Jimmy’s father, Bob, got his start in the business, the wisdom behind the roofing business was sparked in Jimmy one day while sitting on his grandfather’s knee.

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p dir=”ltr”>“Since it’s a very hard and dangerous job, I asked my grandfather why he was a roofer,” Shrull said. “He put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘son. Who do you know who does not have or need a roof over their head?’ Then, I understood.”

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p dir=”ltr”>All three of Jimmy’s children are involved in the roofing industry. Middle daughter Brooke, 24, is on the payroll, as the company’s secretary while the youngest, Madison,19, is a photographer who takes photos for the business and CJ, 26, works for a roofing supply wholesaler Southern Shingles in Austin Texas.

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p dir=”ltr”>Born in San Jose, Jimmy is deeply rooted into the Gilroy community. He went to elementary school at Rucker, then to South Valley Middle School and later to Gilroy High, where he wrestled. Jimmy met his high school sweetheart, Debbie, at Gilroy High.

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p dir=”ltr”>“My wife and I have poured our heart and souls into this community,” Shrull, who’s family are members of New Hope Community Church said. “When I met her I knew I only wanted to be married once, to have three kids, a boy, a girl and whatever God gives us and two dogs. That’s exactly what God gave us.”

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p dir=”ltr”>Technology has changed since the Roger Shrull got his start in the 30’s. The long and painstaking process of taking accurate measurements can now be done with Google Maps, and the quality of roofing materials has improved to a point where manufacturers offer lifetime guarantees. The backbreaking and dangerous job of lugging pallets of shingles up to a roof has now been streamlined by a 40-foot conveyer belt used by Roofline Supply out of San Jose, from whom Jimmy Shrull Roofing buys all its supplies.

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p dir=”ltr”>“Roofers insurance premiums are among the highest for any industry,” said Shrull, whose workers always wear safety harnesses. “Our rates per man are very high because the danger of the job and because of accidents that happen at unsafe companies.”
 

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p dir=”ltr”>While roofing has been a family tradition, the businesses themselves were not inherited. Each generation of Shrull started his own independent businesses as they left their fathers’ companies.

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p dir=”ltr”>Bob created Shrull and Sons Roofing when Jimmy was 3-years old and his brother Robert was 7-years old. Bob Shrull had a long term plan in mind.

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p dir=”ltr”>“My father used to joke that I was the S at the end of Sons, in Shrull and Sons Roofing,” Shrull said. “That used to hurt my feelings, but then I realized that it was just part of our story.”

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p dir=”ltr”>Just as Bob Shrull needed to start his own business, so did Jimmy. Along with his wife Debbie, Shrull put together a business plan, created a logo and officially started his business in 1999. Some things are beyond Shrull’s control. During the heavy rains last winter, the company was hard pressed to keep up with calls for service.

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p dir=”ltr”>“We were busy last year but we’re even busier this year,” Shrull said. “I think people knew it was coming, but they didn’t react. The people who acted too late are calling me this year. When the rains were coming, our phones were ringing off the hook. We love doing service calls and when someone calls, we’ll be there.”

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p dir=”ltr”>Now, after his daughter, Brooke, gave birth to her son Mason, Jimmy is proud to say the business has extended to a fifth generation. How fast 85 years fly.

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p dir=”ltr”>“We got a long way to go,” Shrull said. “I want to hit 100 years.”

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